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The Buddhist Riots of 1963 Tuning Point in Vietnam Essay

Events that take place in history can also be deemed turning points. Turning points in history are often debated amongst historians. They influence the course of future events. A turning point is substantial in its effect on the world, usually shocking. The Buddhists Riots of 1963 is one such event. The proceeding events and aftermath, or result of, the reactions the Buddhist riots triggered, marked a change in how current events are viewed by the public. The Buddhist Riots of 1963 was brought on by Catholic Ngo Dinh Diem’s ban of displaying of the Buddhists flag in the city of Hue.

Diem ordered his government to slay unarmed civilians who were in protest of the ban. These protesters demanded Diem remove the ban in honor of their religious freedom. Diem responded by imprisoning the Buddhist leaders. The Buddhist community became activists who were determined to reverse Diem’s policy. In despair, they began to resort to extreme measures to bring attention to their cause. Their goal was to gain international support and representation. This brought on the first publicized self-immolation of a Vietnamese Buddhist. June 11,1963, Thich Quang Duc resorted to self-immolation.

The Buddhist revolt reached a new dimension on June 11, when Thich Quang Duc, a seventy-three-year-old bonze immolated himself in front of large crowds at a busy intersection in downtown Saigon (Moss, 2010). ” This act of protest along with many other dramatic demonstrations from Buddhists gained attention of thousands worldwide. Some who were not supporters of the Buddhist community and faith were now empathetic to their struggles and supported their cause. The US was under international scrutiny for their contributions to Diem’s government and support of the war against Communism (Toong, 2007).

The involvement of Kennedy in the battle against communism and Diem’s unwillingness to compromise with the Buddhists displayed by continuous brutal murders and imprisonments became national news as the events were diligently televised and reported by the media. “Between May and the fall of Diem‘s government in November 1963, each increasingly dramatic Buddhist demonstration which the South Vietnamese Government (GVN) suppressed with mounting brutality gained international sympathy for the Buddhist movement and worldwide criticism for the authoritarian Diem government (Toong, 2007).

Thus causing the Buddhist Riots of 1963 to become a turning point in history. Diem’s refusal to reverse his anti-Buddhism laws resulted in Washington’s decision to overthrow the Diem government. President Kennedy was in agreement and supported a coup against Diem in response to his proposition toward North Vietnam as well as his gross disapproval of the international citizens (Moss, 2010). These citizens’ opinions were influenced by the media coverage of the Buddhist Riots of 1963 and the subsequent events (Toong, 2007). If not for the media coverage, Kennedy would not have been pressured to overthrow Diem’s government.


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